We know you've heard the word "vegan" thrown around a lot lately. While we love animal products (hello bacon and cheese plates), we also love eating vegan when we can. One of the most beautiful souls we've ever met is here today to share with us her journey to starting with a vegan diet and why she has decided on this lifestyle for her and her hubby.
You have most likely heard these words before. You may have even uttered them yourself at some point. I said them myself, about 6 months before I gave up animal products -- cold turkey.
"Go big or go home," I said.
That was 8 years ago.
Now, I wouldn’t necessarily suggest someone change their diet overnight like I did. Taking time, preparation, and slowly easing yourself into it is probably a better approach. Although these days, there are vegan copycat products for everything under the sun from cheeze to chikin’.
WHAT IS A VEGAN DIET?
Great question! A vegan diet removes all animal products - such as dairy, eggs, meat, fish, etc. - and relies on plants for nutrients. You can achieve a very well-balanced diet and receive all of your nutrients from plants. You just have to educate yourself on those "hidden" resources. For example, did you know that leafy greens are a great resource of calcium?
Many people that eat a vegan diet adopt a vegan lifestyle, too, which attempts to exploiting animals in other ways, including food, clothing, cosmetics, and other products & practices.
So why did I go vegan? Most people tend to go vegan for the animals. I can say it’s one of the reasons I have stayed vegan, but it was not initially why I took the plant-based plunge.
In June of 2005, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. I was a 22-year old female in relatively good health and I couldn’t understand how this happened. I fell into a downward spiral of depression. I spent a year of not thinking about it, not wanting to believe or come to terms with it. I had my entire thyroid removed and would be on Hormone Replacement Therapy for the rest of my life, something you don’t typically want to start at a young age.
A year later, I was feeling the effects of my poor dietary choices and lack of activity. I was always tired and constantly on an emotional rollercoaster. I was sick and tired of being sick and just tired.
I DECIDED TO MAKE A CHANGE
I made small changes at first, like going to an exercise class once a week and trying to add more fruits and veggies to my diet. In 2007, I started to jog around the block a couple of times a week, which eventually turned me into a full-fledged runner. It took awhile but I eventually went from the person who didn’t want to get up from the couch to running a full marathon.
I also started thinking a lot about what I could do to be proactive about my health and wellness. I started reading a lot and doing my own research to figure things out. I had friends who were vegan and introduced me to interesting and weird foods like tofu. I never really liked the taste of meat and had been vegetarian off and on since the age of 6 and was only on again when my doctor told me I was unhealthy and anemic and I needed to start eating meat to have proper iron levels. I didn't like that answer, so I wanted to figure out other sources of iron. On top of that, my love affair with cheese was coming to a close. After seeing my doctor for the upteenth time about my allergies, she told me I was highly sensitive to cheese and other dairy.
MY MIND WAS MADE UP...
But even all of that hadn't really confirmed that a vegan diet was right for me. What did cinch it? The China Study by T. Colin Campbell, PhD & Thomas M. Campbell II, MD. All of the research in this book cited a strong connections between animal protein and cancer. That made for an easy decision to just give it all up. I have a pretty big family history of cancer (including my father, uncle, and sister) and if there is something I could do to be proactive about that, why wouldn't I do it?
Through my research, I’ve learned that a vegan diet complete with whole foods and free of refined and processed foods is great for overall health. It can help with a wide range of health and wellness issues, including weight loss, heart and hormone health, diabetes, arthritis/inflammation, allergies and sensitivities. It can help strengthen immune systems and it has helped me overcome many of my own health problems and feel great again. I have gained back my energy and confidence, not to mention I feel better about the foods I'm putting in my body and my impact on the world.
As I said at the beginning, animal rights isn't why I became vegan, but it is a strong motivator for me to stay vegan. A year after starting my vegan diet, I started implementing other animal-friendly acts into my life. I stopped wearing leather and using anything with animal products in it. I started thinking more about animals and their health as well. It also got me thinking more about the environmental impact. To me, it seems to be a package deal, once you start thinking about one, the others inevitably follow.
IT'S NOT FOR EVERYONE
Let's be honest, going vegan isn’t for everyone. I’m a firm believer that each person needs to figure out what works best for them. If you are interested in going vegan or just eating more plant based foods, there are some great resources out there.
With my passion for health and wellness, I started my own blog too: http://rockmyvegansocks.com/
Remember to listen to your body, your mind, and your heart and do what is right for you. I hope this has helpful to those of you looking to learn more about and maybe even try going vegan. No matter what your chosen diet, here's to health and happiness!
Thank you to so much Kimmy for sharing about your journey to becoming vegan. If you are interested in implementing more vegan meals in your week, head over to her blog for some AMAZING recipes. We know first hand just how delicious (and easy) they are!